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Maki KAWABATA FS2016-17, The University of Tokyo | from Japn to Canada

I am majoring international relations focusing especially on the issue of refugees. As an exchange student, I studied at University of British Columbia in Vancouver for 8 months. I decided to study abroad because I found it necessary to put myself in more diverse, adventurous environment and wanted to view the society where I had grown up from different perspective and take a big step toward my dream of becoming a diplomat or international civil servant. I chose Canada because I thought there were many things to learn from the country’s successful immigration and integration policy, its unique middle power diplomacy as well as its multicultural environment.


During the exchange duration, I took variety of courses related to my major –history, politics, social studies and anthropology. All courses were interesting, intensive, narrowly focused and I was able to learn deeply. The environment in the university was perfect for studying –there were many students and teachers from all over the world so I was exposed to many different viewpoints every day. Also, I received the benefit of the convenient facilities and ample of articles with easy access. The professors and teaching assistants were kind enough to give me helpful advice and feedback, which enabled me to improve my research and academic writing skill. As I was not used to communicate in English, I initially had difficulty in taking active part in the discussion in classes. However, I became confident in expressing myself in English after practicing with my British language partner. Also, some of the subjects I learned in Canada, such as Holocaust and genocide in contemporary conflicts, were very heartbreaking for me. Although I was never able to overcome the sad feeling, I feel glad that now I have deep insight into the negative side of the human nature.


I had a lot of precious experience outside of the classroom as well. I was able to collect much information regarding refugee by attending events on campus. The story of refugees escaped from Syria made me sad and felt determined to help to build international peace as a policy maker. Throughout the duration, I tried to be as curious as possible and feel Canadian culture in variety of ways including music, play, food, sport and film. Through engaging with friends from different parts of the world, I felt Japan was regarded favorably in terms of its people, culture and technology. They made me aware of the preciousness of things in Japan which I took for granted. Now I am more proud of the environment I was brought up than before and strengthened a sense of lifetime mission to preserve Japan’s peaceful relationship with other countries.


After going back to Tokyo, I will start studying hard to pass the national exam to be a government civil servant. I am also planning to start internship related to my study. I’m going to work on the graduation thesis on refugees putting what I had learned in Canada into good use. Lastly, I would like to show you my profound gratitude for the scholarship. Thanks to your assistance, I was able to broaden my horizons and acquire more clear view for what I have to do in the future. Thank you very much.


(right) Maki KAWABATA